Journal of Buddhist Ethics

An online journal of Buddhist scholarship related to ethics.

Rules for Bhikṣuṇīs and Bhikṣus

Volume 6, 1999

A Buddhist View of Women: A Comparative Study of the Rules for Bhikṣuṇīs and Bhikṣus Based on the Chinese Prātimokṣa

In Young Chung
Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley

A generalized view of women in Buddhism is imposed by almost one hundred additional rules and the “Eight Rules” upon nuns. Some scholars, writers, and practitioners have asserted that the rules in the Prātimokṣa subordinate nuns to monks. However, I argue that the additional pārājikas for nuns treat sexual matters seriously because of the fertility of females. Some sa.mghĀva”seṣas for nuns provide safeguards against falling victim to lustful men. Some ni.hsargika-pāyantikas for monks forbid them from taking advantage of nuns. Two aniyatas for monks show a landmark in trust in women. Furthermore, seven”samathas provide evidence of the equality of men and women. Many of the additional pāyantikas for nuns originated because of nuns’ living situations and social conditions in ancient India. Finally, the totally different tone and discrepancies in penalties for the same offenses between the pāyantikas and the “Eight Rules” suggest that the “Eight Rules” were appended later.

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